UM’s Master of Public Administration Program Earns Another Top Ranking

Cara Grewell is a student in UM’s Master of Public Administration program, which recently placed fourth nationally on a list of the “Best 25 Masters in Public Administration Schools in 2021.” She credits the UM faculty for student success.

MISSOULA – Best Value Schools has awarded a second top ranking this year to the University of Montana’s Master of Public Administration program, placing it fourth nationally out of the Best 25 Masters in Public Administration Schools in 2021.

UM bested a number of other top universities in the country, including Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, University of Southern California, Texas A&M and Clemson.

“We have some of the best faculty in the nation,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, chair of UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy. “They are committed to student success and want to ensure a quality, affordable education for our students.”

In the ranking, Best Value Schools spotlighted the practical experience students receive. With guidance from faculty, they build portfolios detailing their professional growth, public administration-related research and ability to work cooperatively in team settings.

“I have been encouraged to take initiative on several research projects – both in coursework and through research assistant positions,” said MPA student Cara Grewell. “Faculty in the program do a great job setting us up for success and are always available if help is needed.”

Grewell was hired as a summer research assistant for a survey project gauging the opinions of election administrators among the Intermountain West states. She also worked on a research project exploring emotional labor before and during a global pandemic and is currently engaged in an independent study with the City of Missoula’s Office of Neighborhoods.

“These opportunities have helped me prepare for the reality of deadlines, conflict and other challenges, while giving me stronger tools to address these obstacles professionally,” she said.

            Earlier this year, Best Value Schools ranked UM’s MPA program fifth out of the top 30 schools in the country offering nonprofit management programs, as well as named UM the top such program in the region.

In its most current ranking, Best Value noted the advantage of being able to complete an MPA degree online at UM. Students are able to work across multiple modalities – fully online, in-person and by robot.  

“I work full time while taking care of a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 3-week-old,” said MPA student Kyndra Cozzie. “The flexibility of this program has allowed me to return to school for my master's degree.”

Cozzie, who works for the Department of Administration in Helena, said the program has been extremely important in helping her excel as a State of Montana employee and manager – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The program has given me skills to effectively communicate with my seven employees to achieve common goals while working remotely,” she said.

Under Cozzie’s leadership, the unit has built a community, worked collaboratively and adapted smoothly to continue operations.

“As I near the completion of the MPA program,” said Cozzie, “I am confident that the knowledge and skills that I have gained will guide me not only in my own success in the public sector but also allow me to help others with their achievements.”

UM’s MPA program is created to be flexible for pre- and mid-career professionals interested in working in public and nonprofit organizations. The degree consists of 36 credits of coursework and a portfolio project, and it offers a concentration in nonprofit administration.

For more information, visit the Department of Public Administration and Policy website.


Contact: Dr. Sara Rinfret, UM Department of Public Administration and Policy chair, 406-243-4702,